The Book of Exodus/Shemot Themes in Exodus/Shemot: Revelation of God, the Pesach, the Sinai Covenant and the Holy Tabernacle

The present lecture begins with a treatment of such issues as the authorship, title, date, structure and literary features regarding the final form of Exodus/Shemot. Further issues to be tackled in outline are: the detailed covenant obligations, the legal material of the Book of the Covenant (21,1-22,20), moral imperatives (22,21-23,9), instructions for the Sabbath and religious festivals (23,10-19), the reciprocal nature of the covenant (23,20-23), the ratification of the covenant and the rebellion in the Israelite camp.
In Exodus/Shemot, following the divine deliverance from Egypt, the Israelites’ relationship with God is formalized through a special agreement or covenant. This covenant stipulates two sets of obligations, presented in the Decalogue, the principal obligations code and the Book of the Covenant, which contains more specific obligations. The principal and detailed obligations complement each other. Moreover, they also highlight the purpose of the Deuteronomist, namely obedience ensures blessing and disobedience punishment.

The three themes explored in conjunction with the introductory section concerned with Exodus/Shemot, are the self-revelation of God, the Pesach and the Sinai covenant. The first theme highlights the plot of the early chapters of Exodus/Shemot, which focus upon the relationship that ripens between God and the Israelites, starting from the dramatic encounter with Moses at the burning bush (3,1-4,17) to the glory of the Lord filling the Tabernacle (40,34-38). The self-revelation of God in Exodus/Shemot is achieved not only through words but signs and wonders as well.

The second theme to be tackled homes in upon the festivity of Pesach/Passover, which may be viewed as being at the heart of God’s rescuing the Israelites. The account and purpose of the Pesach ritual are both tackled in detail.
The third theme pertaining to the Sinai covenant explores the principal covenant obligations, namely the Decalogue. A critical comparison of the Decalogue text in Exodus/Shemot, respectively Deuteronomy/Devarim is also offered, with a specific focus to the witness of the variants.

The fourth theme tackles the Holy Tabernacle. The extent of the textual material signals the primary role of the Holy Tabernacle as God’s abode. Issues to be tackled within this theme include: the royal tent, the holy tent, a tent of meeting, the provision of materials and skilled craftsmen.